Georgetown Historic Planning

Historic Georgetown

Georgetown is rich in historic resources and offers an outstanding quality of life! As we continue to attract development, we are challenged to protect the character or our historic structures and districts. Preservation of the built environment not only provides a link to the past, but helps maintain the look and feel that make Georgetown so attractive today.

The Historic Planning staff reviews projects in the historic overlay districts for conformance the City’s adopted Unified Development Code and Historic District Design Guidelines. Projects are reviewed through the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) application process and may require approval by either the Historic Preservation Officer (HPO) or the Historic and Architectural Review Commission (HARC).

Whether a project requires approval of a COA can depend on the historic significance of the building, the scope of the work being done to the building or on the site, and if the property is located within one of the historic districts. Examples of project types that can require a COA include exterior changes to a historic structure, the construction of new buildings, new signage, fences, and the demolition or removal or historic structures. To read more about the requirements specific to which projects in the historic zoning overlay districts, please see Section 3.13 and Section 4.08 of the Unified Development Code. COA applications are reviewed for compliance with the Design Guidelines and the guidelines can provide guidance and direction for project design.

Interactive Historic Properties Map

Looking for a map of the National Register Historic Districts? Want to see if your property is identified as historic? Looking to purchase property and want to know where the Historic Zoning Overlay Districts are? Click the image of the map above to access the interactive map, and use the layers panel at the right to toggle the map features on and off. You can find out more about a historic property by clicking the red, green, and blue dots, and clicking the link to the Historic Resource Survey entry. You can even search for an address using the search bar at the top left corner of the map!

Downtown & Old Town Historic Overlays

Two overlay zoning districts were established by City Council to define areas that have unique development and design standards meant to preserve and retain the historic character of the buildings and neighborhoods located within these overlays. The two overlays are the Downtown Overlay District, which includes the historic downtown and surrounding commercial and residential areas; and the Old Town Overlay District, which includes mostly residential areas between Downtown and Southwestern University and south to parts of 17th, 18th and 19th Streets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my project requires COA?
  1. Check the priority level of your property by using the Interactive Historic Properties map above. Historic structures are labeled as either Low, Medium, or High priority. The priority levels are determined by the level of historic or architectural significance of a building or site.
  2. Reference the COA Applicability table in Section 3.13 of the UDC. Projects are categorized by the scope of work being done (additions, removal of architectural features, etc.) on the lefthand column.
  3. Find the scope(s) of work being done. Reference the second column in the middle to see what priority levels require review for that type of work. Note: a building designated with any priority level within the historic districts is considered to be a “contributing” structure.
  4. Reference the righthand column to determine the review authority. A COA is required if either HARC or the HPO are listed in the righthand column. If HARC is listed as the approval authority, the project may only be approved by the Historic and Architectural Review Commission at a public hearing. If the HPO, then the COA may be reviewed and issued administratively. If the column lists “NR” that means no review of a COA is required.

Can I speak with staff about my project prior to submitting a COA?
Yes. For larger or more complex projects (such as new infill construction, significant additions, or remodels) we recommend scheduling a pre-application meeting in advance of submitting your application. Staff will be able to provide general feedback and direction on the project.

For smaller projects or miscellaneous questions, you can contact the Historic Planning office at

How do I submit my COA application?
Applications must be submitted through the MyGovernmentOnline permit portal. See the MGO FAQ page for guides on submitting an application, checking review status, paying fees, and submitting revised documentation.

What information do I need to submit with my application?
Reference the COA application checklist Submittal Documents section. The checklist provides the list of required documents that must be submitted with your application as well as detailed information on what should be included within each document.

Do I need to hire an outside professional to get approval?
Not necessarily, it generally depends on the scope of work. As long as it is not required by law and sufficient documentation can be provided for staff’s review, you may not have to hire a professional designer for your COA application. For significant projects, the application may benefit from benefit from guidance provided by a professional with an architectural or historic preservation background.

What is the review process and how long does it typically take?
Review the Planning Department’s Development Manual for guidance on the development application review process including application submittal dates, technical review timelines and final action procedures.

Are there any financial incentives available for historic preservation?
The City Council adopted a Historic Tax Exemption Program on September 26, 2023. For more information on whether your project may be eligible for the exemption, please visit the Historic Tax Exemption page.

Who can I contact with questions?
512-930-3575 or

If you are a prospective project applicant within one of our Historic Districts or have any questions, please contact the Downtown & Historic Planner.

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